Giving Homelessness A Voice:Lynn Shelter Association Brings Photo Exhibit to Tech Tiger’s Den

By Cary Shuman

The Lynn Shelter Association (LSA) held an opening ceremony for its Off the Grid photography exhibit Friday at the Tiger’s Den café located inside the Lynn Tech Annex.

The photographs, taken by residents at the LSA adult emergency shelter in Lynn, are situated on the walls of the café and will remain there for public viewing until Feb. 17, 2017.

Susan Ogan, professional photographer and project coordinator, said the project began at LSA last February “with the goal of giving people who are homeless the opportunity to use photography as a tool of expressing what their experiences with homelessness were.”

Ogan said the photography exhibit allows the participants to share their feelings and beliefs with the community. The goal of the project is to increase awareness and understanding of the changing face of homelessness, she added.

“We provided cameras to 12 people who were living at the Lynn Shelter Association’s adult emergency shelter and we took field trips around Lynn, taking photographs of moonrises, sunsets and other scenes – and the goal was to help them express their voice using photography,” said Ogan.

LSA hosted a grand opening for the exhibit at Lynn Arts in September. The event was well attended, said Ogan.

“People have shown an interest in bringing pieces from the exhibit to different places and our hope at Lynn Tech is that people who visit the Tiger’s Den will enjoy the photographs and expand their awareness of homelessness. We hope Tech students and teachers also take the time to view the photographs.”

Other potential venues for the LSA photo exhibit include the State House in Boston and Boston Adult Education Center.

Joanne Paul-Joassainte, one of the photographers in the exhibit, said she was a resident at the LSA emergency shelter when LSA President Allison Brooks asked if anyone would like to participate in the photography exhibit.

“I volunteered to participate,” said Paul-Joassainte. “I took more than 1,500 photographs. I photographed by Lynn City Hall and Union Street and other areas in the city. Through my photos, I was able to bring a voice to the homeless because I was able to photograph people like myself who were homeless. I let people see what we see on a daily basis. By photographing what I see, people can see things from my perspective.”

Paul-Joassainte, who is now living at a Boston shelter and seeking affordable housing, praised LSA officers and project coordinator Ogan.

“Susan is a great mentor,” said Paul-Joassainte. “She’s amazing. She showed us what to notice as photographers. I got a better understanding of what others can see that I didn’t always see. I also learned so much about how to use a camera and take better photographs. Her help has been tremendous. We did day shoots, evening shoots, no matter how cold the weather may have been.”

Joseph Skeadas, director of culinary arts and director of athletics at Lynn Tech, was instrumental in arranging for the photography exhibit at Tech. Skeadas also graciously hosted an exhibit-kickoff luncheon in which students in the culinary arts program prepared and served lunches at the Tiger’s Den. Skeadas’s noble gesture was well appreciated by the guests at the exhibit’s unveiling ceremony.

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